The Storm behind the Calm

A friend narrated this tale to me a few years back and it has stuck with me since. Let’s call her Priya. This true narrative is about an unforgettable person who has become unforgettable to me in spite of not once having met her. One of Priya’s friends (let’s call her Simi) recently passed on the opportunity for a promotion at work. She did not even spare a thought to apply for it. Or so it seemed.

Priya was bursting with curiosity. Simi was one of the best employees who had caught up very quickly with the demands of her role and was a quick learner. She got along with everyone in her team, was always calm under pressure and no one ever heard her raise her voice or lose it, no matter what the circumstances. Her delicate features and shy demeanour often gave one the impression that she was someone who would constantly needed to be protected in a harsh corporate environment. It’s only as you got to know her that the quiet inner strength was revealed and one would realise exactly how much effort it took to be a genuinely nice person, no matter what you’re faced with in life.

As Priya narrated this tale to me over a coffee, my interest was piqued too. Simi sounded like the perfect employee of every manager’s dreams! Why wouldn’t she apply for the promotion she so deserved, based on everything I’d just heard about her?

Priya fell silent, trying to find the right words. In a few minutes she realised there simply was no good way to say it, and she said, “Simi’s had a difficult married life. Though she’s married to a wonderful and kind man, her in-laws are another matter. Some of the instances she shared of the sarcastic manner in which her mother-in-law chose to communicate with her, and a sister-in-law who had thrown morals and social conduct protocols to the wind – it shocked me that such people existed even today, ready to break up a son’s marriage, a brother’s marriage with the acid dripping from their words. Simi’s husband though was head over heels in love with her, and though he struggled to maintain a balance between all the ladies of his family, his love for Simi never wavered. In fact, Simi was expecting her first child and was over the moon. For a few months, everything went as per plan but the Universe seemed to have something else in mind and in a sad twist of fate, Simi lost the baby. While all of Simi’s colleagues at work called or visited, kept her company and tried to cheer her up, her husband’s mother and sister did not even show empathy enough to console their son and brother. Simi of course, was nowhere in their radar, but they forgot their own blood as well. When her husband called to tell them what had happened, their reaction was like that of two perfect strangers.”

“Simi’s husband was heartbroken at this turn of events. What’s more, her in-laws now began to blame her job for her miscarriage, insisting that she quit work and become a housewife. There’s nothing wrong in deciding to stay home and take care of your family instead of choosing to work, but isn’t that something a woman should be able to decide for herself rather than being read the riot act? Anyways, with all this uncertainty surrounding her life, she didn’t want to apply for a promotion she may not be around to take.”

This isn’t even the part of the story that made Simi unforgettable for me. While Priya was near tears by the time she came to the end of the tale, she told me something that gave me pause, which made me wonder if I could ever be like that. While Simi was narrating the entire harrowing experience to Priya, she was completely calm, did not look or sound upset with her in-laws. Not a single expression of frustration or anger was uttered. Somehow, she had managed to narrate the story of her loss with absolutely no negative emotion towards those who continued to harass her. In fact by the end of story, sensing Priya’s emotional state, Simi was the one who consoled her and told her she still had hope that one day everything will be okay and her husband’s mother and sister will leave all the negativity behind.

This attitude of hope and positivity in the face of so much negativity – it just made me think of all the silly things we sometimes take so seriously in life and let it affect our emotional balance. It also made me wonder if I would ever reach this level of emotional calm that Simi seems to have achieved in life.

I’m still wondering.

Author’s Note – This post originally appeared in SiyaWoman. The content has been slightly changed for relevance to present time. Republished with permission from SiyaWoman. Link to original post given below:

Illustrated By: Dr Anisha Kumar


2 comments on “The Storm behind the Calm”
  1. Over Soil says:

    I don’t know what to take from this story, but that surely Simi has worked out that the problems do not lay at her feet. She is just getting on with her life. Maybe the lesson from this is that sympathy comes at a price and telling our back story isn’t always helpful?

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! Interesting perspective. For me, what fascinated me was how she found the space for a smile inspite of what she was going through. Simple but powerful.

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